The lone flickering candle that dissipated the darkness in my room during the six-day long electricity outage in the aftermath of the cyclone Fani, reminded me of a Christian’s role to burn for Jesus Christ. We are in times when we generally think of candles while contemplating to have a candle-light dinner. Otherwise, gone are the days of candles, lanterns and oil lamps. We have much more viable alternatives these days in battery-charged lights, electricity-chargeable emergency lights and solar lights. So, we normally grab one of these lights in the absence of a power cut.
But, what does one do when there aren’t generators or inverters within reach, the battery gets exhausted, the stored electricity charge is over and their isn’t enough sunlight to recharge the solar lamps? Retracing ones steps back to the humble candle is the only available option!
That’s exactly what happened with my family! We decided to save one of our electricity-charged lights for emergency, and use candles to light up our house once all the other alternative sources of lighting were exhausted. (It was uncertain when electricity would be restored, though restoration work was in progress.)
As I sat on my bed watching each candle on the table lighten up the room and then melt away only to be replaced by another one, the Spirit of God made me realize this very powerful truth about the life of a believer in Jesus Christ.
- A candle lightens up the room.
Jesus Christ said, “You are the light of the world . . .” (Matthew 5:14). The world we live in is so dark with sin that people have adjusted their eyes to this darkness. Sin has so much become a way of life that, the thought of redemption seems uncalled-for. So much has darkness enslaved mankind that people do not have the urge to look for a source of light. This is where a believer in Jesus Christ needs to shine bright.
A believer in Jesus Christ is empowered to be the light of the world by virtue of being lighted by the light if Jesus Christ, who said, “. . . I am the light of the world . . .” (John 8:12). If a candle doesn’t give light – the very purpose for which it is designed – it is thrown away in the trash. A believer in Jesus Christ who having the light within, doesn’t lighten up to dispel the darkness of sin around, is useless in the Kingdom of God.
It doesn’t matter where or under what circumstances you are in. If you have the light of Jesus Christ within you, shine for Him. The dark world desperately needs your light, but is ignorant of it.
- A candle burns down in the process of giving light.
A candle burns for a few hours at the maximum. If it is a specially designed thick and huge candle, it is likely to last a bit more. But, eventually it melts away. Unless the wax melts away, a candle cannot give out light. There comes a stage in which there remains no trace of a structured candle. A candle loses its very existence in performing the function that it was made for.
You and I do not have permanent lives in this world. This world is our temporary dwelling place. No matter how we guard our lifestyles and take care to increase our life spans, there will come a time when we would breathe our last. In this transitory life, we are called to light up this dark world even at the cost of melting our lives away. It isn’t easy! You see, it is always a source of heat that causes a candle to melt away. A candle that is not ignited neither gives light, nor melts away.
You and I are called to be ignited for Christ. The flame of the Holy Spirit ignites the life of a believer who in turn is expected to emanate light and in the process burn away. Jesus Christ said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain.” (John 12:24) Don’t worry about burning away or dying. Do your part to lighten up the world around you, for you have eternal life in store for you.
- A candle emits soot while it is burning.
A candle, be it made of paraffin wax or beeswax, emits toxic gases that add to environmental pollution. This is in fact one of the reasons why people look for alternatives to candles. Moreover, it is not advisable to let a candle burn in a closed room. It is hazardous for people with respiratory problems to be exposed to candle fumes.
In this point, a believer is different. The apostle Paul writes to the Corinthians, “For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.” (2 Corinthians 2:15) You and I are the aroma of Jesus Christ in the dark world stinking with sin. As our lives burn for Jesus, our fragrance is a refreshing beacon for people to find their way to Him.
There will still be people who will fail to smell the aroma, but will perceive toxic gases instead. They are the ones for whom Christ and the Cross mean foolishness. However, we are kept as fragrance amidst the stench. Unlike a candle, even as we burn to give out light, we are called to emit the sweet perfume that Christ has infused into us.
- A candle that melts away is replaced by another.
A candle is not expected to give an everlasting light. It has a short life. And, this is another reason why we prefer alternatives to candles these days. However, in the absence of alternatives, when one candle meets its end, it is quickly replaced by another so that there is no occasion for darkness to reign.
Each believer in Jesus Christ is called to burn for the time span ordained by our Master. We cannot choose to burn endlessly, because this life is not about us. The light is important, not so much the light-giver. A believer’s ultimate aim is to point to the One “who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see . . .” (1 Timothy 6:16) Once our earthly stint is over, someone else takes our place to continue to emanate the light so that darkness doesn’t find a foothold to reign.
This is how the light of believers continues to thrive in this world. No matter how hopelessly darkened the world may be in sin, there is always the light of a believer burning in some corner. The baton continues to be passed on and on and on. This comprises the global church of Christ of which you and I are parts.
- Candles burning together illuminate better.
On one of those evenings of power outage, I lighted three small candles together. I was happy to observe the immediate increase in illumination. One candle sure dispels darkness. But, when more number of candles are lit together, either on the same plane or in different corners of the room, the cumulative lighting is way much more than that of one single candle.
The more intense the darkness, the more the need for greater illumination. The schemes of the devil are so vicious, that believers need to stand together hand in hand to resist the evil one. Hence, the need for corporate worship – for strengthening the body of Christ, i.e, the church and to project a collective defense before the enemy.
The Kingdom of God does not involve individualism and favouritism. It entails the collective body of believers – the bride of the Lamb, “. . . having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.” (Philippians 2:2) To this end, believers need to burn together to give out the radiance that would compel darkness to flee.
By the time electricity was restored in our area, thanks to the tireless workers toiling in the scorching summer heat to raise up the bent electric poles and untangle and connect the wires, I had fallen in love with candles thanking God for the profound lesson in the midst of a calamity.
My Prayer for us: Lord, help us to be ablaze for Your glory spreading Your light and aroma in the world. Amen.